Ganges water and myths of immunity from coronavirus

Sinha, Chetan (2021) Ganges water and myths of immunity from coronavirus. Mainstream, 59 (19). pp. 1-3.

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The recent wave of coronavirus pandemic across the world has a deep impact on the people’s lives and they tried to resolve, as in the time of dearth of vaccines, by aligning with their cultural myths and faiths. One of the most interesting cases that we encountered recently is people taking bath during Kumbh mela in Uttarakhand [1], as a matter of their religious faith which also induced a carefree attitude towards the current pandemic. This was indeed politically motivated and logically construed by the authority. In Varanasi, where there was a
view emanating out of common sense understanding about the Ganges water that those who live around Ganges and utilize its water in whatever form are better in their immune system. Though the current data of the pandemic rise showed a contrary picture. This was also seen in the way people engage with the river water during the festive season such as Holi. This has a wider implication on the pollution discourse also. It is in the religious myth that Ganga river water has a curative role both in terms of one’s sin and to the health. Though this view doesn’t come under the scientific criteria and there is no scientific proof of it. The association of people with Ganga also shows the collectivity and peoples activation of social identity. The religious factor is undeniably important in forming the social discourse where Ganga river is taken as mother and people recite often as ‘jai ganga maiyaa’ (Obeisance to mother Ganges). This itself shows the correlation between one’s deep-seated association with Ganga river and their derivation of efficacy to deal with the disease. Recently, during the Covid-19 times, the notion that Ganga river water has a curative value became popular. People were showing confidence in their cultural values, their memory and association with Ganga. To some extent it reminds us of social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) which marked the importance of value, emotion and knowledge about one’s membership and association with the social group. This also reminds us of the way social identity theory as an authentic theory of oppressed and marginalized, carried the agenda of social change forward differentiating itself from other essentialists’ approach. When the social identity connects with cultural values it may pose a danger of essentializing something and taking it forward in a modified way. In both the cases, whether lurking upon once culture and identifying with its rituals and faith or
disengaging with the dominant notions and form collective movement, as in the case of Dalit to asserts one’s identity, it develops a positive health efficacy. The belief that Ganga water has the spiritual and medicinal value shows its emotional and historical significance and there is a different matter when same water is sprinkled when the person comes in contact with people from Dalit community or people from Muslim group.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Coronavirus | Ganga water | Myths | Immunity | Pandemic
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Law and Legal Studies
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Mr Sombir Dahiya
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2022 13:49
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2022 13:49
Official URL:


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